Jason Lubyk: You state in Sex, Drugs, Einstein and Elves that ‘if certain computer languages are more suited for modularity, size, speed or ease of use, could certain human languages be optimized for human growth potential, creativity, memorability, or for communicating one thoughts and emotions.’ Have you ever speculated what forms these languages would take, what would differentiate them from our existing languages?
Clifford Pickover: If language and words do shape our thoughts and tickle our neuronal circuits in interesting ways, I sometimes wonder how a child would develop if reared using an ‘invented’ language that was somehow optimized for mind-expansion, emotion, logic, or some other attribute. Perhaps our current language, which evolved chaotically through the millennia, may not be the most ‘optimal’ language for thinking big thoughts or reasoning beyond the limits of our own intuition.
I am not certain what form these special languages would take. However, such languages would probably be most effective if introduced when a child is young – at a time when language acquisition seems to take place more efficiently and effectively. This is a fascinating area of contemplation, given that debates still take place as to whether the biological contribution to our language abilities includes language-specific capacities, such as a universal grammar, which may constrain us. I also wonder if we would need different languages for the differing purposes of memorabilty, creativity, empathy and so forth. Incidentally, we already know that mathematical ‘languages’ can help us reason more clearly – at least for some kinds of mathematical contemplations – than traditional languages.
Because adults will not be fluent in this new language, they might not be good teachers of the language to children. Perhaps artificial entities will be required for the teaching task.